Magnarelli: New York Needs Real Tax Relief

April 21, 2006
Since New York currently has a multibillion dollar surplus of the taxpayers’ money, it is extremely important that we put some of that money back in the pockets of working families. When the Legislature met in open conference committees last month, we came to a bipartisan agreement on a budget that would return some of the taxpayers’ money through tax cuts, help deliver better services and increase local aid.

The Legislature’s bipartisan budget cuts taxes $1.6 billion this year, and $2.5 billion next year, and rejects nearly $1 billion in tax increases the governor wanted to impose. Now, the governor wants to deny most of that tax relief to New York families. The governor’s vetoes would reject a total of $960 million in property tax rebates to homeowners across the state.

In Onondaga County, the vetoes would mean eliminating an average rebate of $209 for homeowners who receive Basic STAR and $318 for seniors who receive Enhanced STAR. In addition, the Legislature’s budget provides a cost-of-living adjustment to Enhanced STAR, which would save eligible seniors an additional $72 million across the state. That means in Onondaga County, the average senior homeowner would save an additional $1,203.

The governor’s vetoes also rejected our inclusive “Empire Child Tax Credit” plan, which gives a tax credit with a maximum benefit of $330 for each child between 4 and 17 for every family in the state – totaling $600 million in savings statewide.

Our plan also proposed raising the STAR personal income tax credit to $115 for single filers and $230 for joint filers; and reducing the marriage penalty tax, which would save married couples $41 million annually when fully phased in. But that’s all in jeopardy now because of the governor’s vetoes.

It’s important to note that the governor isn’t saying New York doesn’t need tax relief. In fact, his own budget proposal contained tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest New Yorkers, as well as a shortsighted education tax credit that denied relief to far too many New Yorkers, including those living in Central New York.

Working families need real tax relief today. The governor based his vetoes on highly legalistic technicalities, and even more incredibly, he tried to extend the sales tax on clothing and footwear. But when the Legislature, with the Assembly taking the lead, refused to pass the extension, the governor had the gall to take credit for the sales tax expiring.

The governor was even so bold as to take credit for the $14.4 million in local aid Syracuse was to receive, although in his own budget, he felt $5.3 million was enough. The truth is that the Assembly, once again, took the lead in adding $9 million. We felt that localities – not Albany bureaucrats – would know where the money was most needed, and gave them the power to spend accordingly with our bipartisan budget agreement. The governor is not only taking credit for the Legislature’s large increase in local aid, but he’s adding restrictions on how the money can be spent.

I believe we must do everything we can to keep taxes down and let working families keep more of their hard-earned money, and I am ready to override the governor’s vetoes and help provide the tax relief that New Yorkers really need.